Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Morning Gift

"Owie, ooowwwwie," Eli cries from his bed. It is 6:10 a.m. His low, scratchy tone tells me he's not really hurt. It lacks the high-pitched urgency of true injury. I tiptoe out of my room, carefully avoiding the squeakiest floorboards, stretching my legs like a frog hopping on lily-pads. Eli will go back to sleep in a few minutes, I think. I still have 50 minutes of early-morning peace coming my way, and I'm looking forward to a cup of steaming hot tea to soothe my scratchy throat. I want to see Tobin before he goes to work, to sit on the couch together and eat breakfast quietly, like we may have done before we had children. (Who can remember now?)

"Mama? Owwwie," Eli insists from his bed. "Owwwwie."


I turn his knob quietly and enter his room. "Do you need covered up?" I ask, seeing that he's bucked off his blankets during the night. "Yeah," he answers, his voice muffled by the pacifier in his mouth. I find his favorite snuggly blanket and tuck it around his body. He signals his approval by wriggling his bottom back and forth like a puppy wagging its tail. I turn, ready to make my escape.

"Mama stay with you," he says gently.

"I'll snuggle you for a minute, and then I'll come check on you in a while, okay?" Believe it or not, sometimes this works for me. I pat his back and spell his name in gentle rubs. His breathing slows. I think I see his eyes close, but I can't be certain in this early-morning darkness. I gently rise and head for the door.

Eli wails as I shut the door, and I hear him sit up in bed. The gig is up.

Still, he is only half awake, which means that his other half would rather go back to sleep. "Would you like to snuggle in Mama's bed?" I ask as a formality, already knowing the answer. "Yeah," he says, and he reaches up toward me.

In my arms, he melts into my body, he moves his head until he finds the nesting groove that he loves, part-way between my shoulder and neck. He is so instantly relaxed that I briefly wonder whether his condition is achievable in adulthood without the assistance of drugs or hypnotherapy.

We situate in bed, with me on my side, one arm chicken-winged under my pillow, the other hugging Eli. He lays on his back, perfectly still, sucking his pacifier. Periodically he sighs, in complete satisfaction: "Mmmm. Mmmmm."

I breathe in the smell of my two-year-old boy. I detect a hint of sweet vanilla pudding from last night's dessert. I know we wiped his face...perhaps he hid some in his hair? This mixes with the faint musk of earwax, the sweet of saliva, and the earthiness of his hair. As I inhale, the potion goes straight to my bones, and I am fortified as if by calcium.

We doze quietly as the light in the room morphs from black to gray to purple to blue. In this barely-light, Eli wakes up. He remembers he has a second pacifier in his hand, and he brings it up to the one in his mouth, as if his pacifier needs pacified. He turns toward me, the curve of his smiling lips peeking out from behind his pacifier; he knows this is a funny joke.

"Mama want some?" Eli generously offers his spare pacifier. "No thanks," I say, and turn my head, knowing he might insist. "In your ee-ah?" he says, putting it on my ear, then "In your aye?" as he gently pats it against my closed eye. "No thank you," I giggle, and then tickle his tummy to return the favor.

"Are you ready to get up?" I ask.

"I jump?" he requests, happily raising his eyebrows in anticipation.


We roll out of the covers. Eli jumps on the bed while I get dressed.

He puts his chubby hand into mine as we open the door and step into the day together.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Birthday Haiku: To Grandpa with Love

Sing "to work to work,"
the hungry babes must be fed.
He marries the soil.

Child with no mother
learns to shoulder mothering
the crops on the land.

He sings in the fields,
coaxes food where there was none;
blows snot in the dirt.

He battles the land,
bugs and pests and government.
He calls for a truce.

His white flag waving,
he emerges from the loam,
feeling he has failed.

He trades in the plow,
receives books and a backpack,
a powerful pen.

He sings now of peace,
of love for all humankind.
He's friend of the birds.

In his chair (I hope)
he breathes sighs of contentment
for all he has done.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Get Out the Iron Supplements

If you know my Sylvia, you understand why we sometimes call her our Little Goat. This girl, she'll eat anything. The less food-related, the better. So it came as no surprise tonight when I spied Sylvia and Eli, playing together in the backyard, shovels and buckets in hand. Their mouths were outlined with dark, sandy dirt, and their fingernails were black, causing them to resemble inductees of Goth Toddlers of America. They dug shovels into buckets for seconds.

"Stop! That is NOT FOOD!," I yelled, then stated what I thought was patently obvious: "It's not even yummy!"

"Yes it is, Mama," Sylvia replied encouragingly, her words gritty with the contents of her mouth. "We put cat food in it."

Ooooh, well. As long as there's cat food in it...
Lest you believe that the above photo was taken in our backyard, I feel compelled to disclose that it was not. It is a recent photo from our vacation in Mexico, added here to spice up this otherwise miniscule post. One would never say our backyard is manicured our even well-maintained. To label it a Mudpit would be more accurate. Wanna come over and play? We'll supply the mud and catfood; maybe you could bring drinks...